Victimization of Female Characters in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife (Published)
This paper examines the attitude of William Wycherley, the ferocious moralist, to the victimization of women by the elite of aristocratic society during the Restoration era. To attain his goal, Wycherley casts the characters of The Country Wife into four distinct groups, the victimizer, the victimized, the self-made victims, and the exemplary characters. Horner and other rakes stand for the first group; in the second group stand Margery and fine ladies, the third group comprises the self-made cuckolds, Pinchwife, and Sir Jasper Fidget; and in the fourth group stand the mouthpiece of Wycherley, Alithea and Harcourt. The study thrusts the idea that the playwright demonizes the conduct of the cruel victimizers, as well he burlesques conduct of self-made cuckolds. To the playwright, both types stand behind the failings of female character. By contrast, Wycherley expresses notable sympathy to all victimized females. Margery is depicted as a victim of an overprotective and possessive husband, and corrupt society. The same is meant for the fine ladies. For being completely neglected by husbands, they drifted into the road of adultery and extramarital activities. Despite the sympathy Wycherley shows toward the victims, he endorses not the flirtation of victims, but he wishes to see the conduct of exemplary characters prevail.
Keywords: Wycherley, the country wife, the rake, the self-made cuckolds, the virtuous gang.